Google Four 1993 Laphroaig

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

January 25, 2020




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Four 1993 Laphroaig
I have a hypothesis. It’s widely known - well, amongst the sort of circles who care about these things, which is not as wide as those within might often believe - that 1993 Bowmores tend to be very good.


However, I have a suspicion that 1993 was more widely an excellent year for Scotch Whisky in general. I know that vintage effects in whisky are at best dubious and almost certainly more to do with the quirk of available bottlings rather than specific production differences. Although, I wouldn’t ever rule the latter out. Anyway, I digress; I think 1993 produced quite a raft of excellent bottlings from more than a few distilleries. One name which has struck me on a few occasions in the past in relation to this phenomenon is Laphroaig. I haven’t managed to gather enough 1993 Laphroaigs together before now to probe this idea more intimately, so let’s stick our noses in and see what bites…



Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2006 (46%, Chieftain’s, casks #8026/8028, hogsheads, 1218 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2006 (46%, Chieftain’s, casks #8026/8028, hogsheads, 1218 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: soft and rather effortlessly coastal. This softness may or may not come from the bottling strength but it certainly reveals many beautiful notes of white flowers, crushed seashells, chalk, mineral salts and wee notes of petrol and citrus fruits. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a departure from other 1990s Laphroaig, but it is an elegant and very beautiful example. If a tad humble perhaps. Mouth: wait a moment… there is indeed something slightly tropical going on here. Dried mango, banana chips and papaya with more typical lemon peel and plainer notes of smoked barley and medicines. You could be forgiven for thinking this was a 10yo bottled a couple of years before this was distilled. Finish: long, lemony, fragrantly smoky, sandalwood, pink sea salt and more floral notes. A kind of wispy peat in the aftertaste. Comments: Don’t let this one fool you, it’s deft and almost shy at times, but there’s real beauty if you pay close attention.
SGP: 555 - 90 points.



Laphroaig 15 yo 1993/2008 (46%, Douglas Of Drumlanrig, cask #4598, refill hogshead, 150 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1993/2008 (46%, Douglas Of Drumlanrig, cask #4598, refill hogshead, 150 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: super clean, mineral, precise, lemony, salty and full of this coastal jostle of seaweed, ink, fresh oysters and beach foam. The nose is more simplistic than the Chieftains but no less fragrant and elegant. There’s even a wee lick of mango mixed in with the very gentle smokiness. Again we’re harking back to old official 10 year olds bottled around 1990. Mouth: superbly fruity, salty and lightly oily in texture. Like rubbed lemon peel with flints, soft briny touches, squid ink and umami broths. Also more background exotic fruity notes. Finish: long, saline and with quite a bit of antiseptic, Witch Hazel, herbal teas and medical toothpaste. Comments: Rather straightforward but the flavours are so precise and elegantly structured it’s impossible not to think of older style Laphroaigs - especially with these wee exotic fruity elements.
SGP: 644 - 90 points.



Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2005 (54.7%, Queen Of The Moorlands, 94 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2005 (54.7%, Queen Of The Moorlands, 94 bottles)
The Queen Of The Moorlands series was the work of David Wood when he owned managed the excellent Wine Shop in Leek and who would later go on to manage Caol Ila distillery. He bottled some beautiful whiskies during these years, quite a few of which are now very hard to find. Colour: white wine. Nose: what’s remarkable is how different it is. This is really all about total purity and precision. Crushed seashells, petrol, mineral salts, seawater, lemon juice and ink. But also, underneath, some sparing and almost brittle notes of passion fruit, lime and mango. The smoke is there but it is ethereal, vaporous and drawn across everything like a silk curtain. I find it extremely beautiful. With water: pow! Bath salts, crystallised exotic fruits, crushed nettles, rapeseed oil and a little mango puree. Still generally very sharp, crystalline and superbly fresh though. Mouth: hyper saline and lightly ashy on arrival; yielding to more fleshy citrus fruits, some sooty cereal notes, TCP, medical balms, metal polish and many embrocations and petrol notes. This fruitiness seems to fade in an out like background noise. With water: again the fruits soften, fatten and come to the fore. Everything is more fleshy, more rounded, more oily in texture and there’s a more weighty sense of cohesion about it. Finish: long, with this wonderfully lemon-scented smokiness, brine and olive oil mixed, green olives, some dried herbs and salty liquorice. Comments: In truth, it was this bottling which had given me cause for suspicion about 93 Laphroaigs when I tried it way back in 2006 when it was first released. I’ve not tasted it for at least 12 years and I always wanted to try it again. I have to say, I was sceptical about how my palate may have changed in that time, but it absolutely does not disappoint. Beautiful, fresh, complex, lightly fruity and stunningly well structured Laphroaig. Ironically enough I was very close to 93…
SGP: 656 - 92 points.



Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2006 (57.4%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, cask #3473, bourbon barrel, 199 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2006 (57.4%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, cask #3473, bourbon barrel, 199 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: what unifies all of these so far is freshness. This one has it in spades but there is a more definite lean towards minerality, pebbles, chalk, bath salts and even smelling salts. Some kind of collision of malt vinegar and petrol. Powerful yet restrained. Not to mention totally excellent I should add. With water: almost farmy now. Notes of carbolic acid, fermenting wash, oily sheep wool, tar and old toolboxes. Mouth: we’re not far from the QOTM bottling, but this is slightly more citric, less tropical and more powerfully medicinal. All manner of antiseptics, ointments, bandages, mercurochrome and then seawater, lemon juice, tar and iodine. Some beautifully wispy kiln smoke underneath, along with squid ink, dried seaweed and a super clean citric acidity. With water: magnificently sooty, salty, mineral, peppery, earthy and smoky. Bone dry and almost waxy - like some rather old dry Loire chenin. Finish: long, oily, fishy, tarry and with the smoke taking on an almost greasy and bloated quality. Comments: Another hugely impressive Laphroaig. What I love about these 1993s is that they wear their distillery character with screaming obviousness, yet they still manage to represent something of a departure in style from other 1990s Laphroaigs. Even the earlier 90s and 91s - of which you can find many more examples than 1993.
SGP: 466 - 91 points.



I am very happy with this wee tasting, as you might imagine. It’s interesting to note that what makes these Laphroaigs stand out - just as what makes the 1993 Bowmores stand out - is that gentle but definite elevation of their fruitier aspects. Characteristics which hark back to both distillery’s glory years. It’s fascinating to see how Bowmore and Laphroaig often fly close together in many ways. Now, I’m sure not all 1993 Laphroaigs, or indeed all 1993 whiskies, are 90+ point material. Indeed, you’ll find many other 1990s Laphroaigs of similar scores and quality. However, I do feel that there is something a tad distinctive and ‘separate’ about these four drams from their close 1990s siblings. It’s a hypothesis I will gladly return to in the future if I can accumulate sufficient samples to do so.



Thanks Hideo.



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